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Andrew Lake
Sounders FC fan, geek, human dignity advocate
Sounders FC fan, geek, human dignity advocate

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One of the best things I've watched in the last 6 months.
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Brandon Downey, a former Google engineer who says he regrets his role in helping develop the company’s first censorship tool in China (before the company backed out of the Chinese market in 2010), wrote a moving essay about what’s at stake:

"Google is acting like a traditional company; one that squeezes every dime out of the marketplace, heedless of intangibles like principle, ethical cost, and even at the risk of the safety of its users...If technology is a tool, then it means the people making that tool have a responsibility to curb their tool’s misuse by playing a role in the decisions on how it gets used. And if the people who are the leaders of the company don’t believe this, they should hear it in plainer and clearer terms: namely, you do not become one of the largest companies in the history of capitalism without the assistance of the workers making those tools."
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My friends who consider yourselves progressives, please recognize this truth: there are more assholes in this world who are content with your diminishment and destruction than you thought.

Stop wasting time hoping that is not true.
Stop agonizing over how terrible it is for that to be true.
Stop arguing with these assholes hoping to convince them of the essential humanity of all people.
Stop it. Just stop it. Please, for goodness sake, stop it. It is wasting precious time and resources on a lost cause and causing no end of anxiety, pain, and hurt in the process. We are destroying ourselves both individually and collectively, in effect accomplishing the stated goals of these assholes for them.

You want things to change? How about we start by bellying up to the reality of the world we live in.

It is a world with people that have no reservations about using the power of wealth and the power of government to deprive you, me and many others of our basic human dignity. They have no reservations about using the power of wealth and the power of government to commit violence against you, me and many others in the cause of retaining, reclaiming, and expanding those powers.

For almost 20 years after World War 2 - a war where the destruction of people for their innate, immutable traits was perpetrated on a scale never before experienced in human history - it remained legal in the U.S. to actively and violently deprive human beings of their basic rights and dignity. And even for all the very real, hard-fought and won progress made during the Civil Rights movement, many of those deprivations continue to this day.

My friends who call yourselves progressives, the reality is that we got ridiculously complacent. We got incredibly lazy. We took progress for granted. We took progress for an inevitability. We created a fantasy world so far out of alignment with reality that we are struggling now to confront the real world as it is. We spend more of our time and energy being shocked about a reality we convinced ourselves didn't exist than we do committing ourselves to the hard work of actually changing it. The work before us is urgent and is the work of generations. We may not get all of what we want, and so dearly need, in our lifetimes. When we recognize the actual, real scope the problems we face, then perhaps we'll realize how lazy and, ultimately, selfish it is to expect easy, quick fixes (like expecting the next national elections will somehow make everything okay. It won't.)

I don't say this to cause despair or hopelessness. Rather the opposite.

When we start dealing with reality, as it is and not as we hope it would be, then we'll finally enable ourselves to buckle down and start doing the hard, but far more motivating and rewarding work of making meaningful and lasting change.
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“I Was Devastated”: The Man Who Created the World Wide Web Has Some Regrets
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"What does it mean, 'the process is the punishment'?"

That the American system of justice is so broken that a guilty plea is in many ways a better option than a verdict of not guilty.

Let's say that I'm involved in a shooting. I claim self defense: the government claims I was motivated by animus. My lawyer is very certain we can meet our burden of proof for my affirmative defense. The prosecutor also knows he can't prevail at trial. Unfortunately, there's some reason that putting me in the slammer is in the prosecutor's best interests: maybe he's running for re-election on a gun control platform and I used one of those evil black AR-15s, whatever.

The prosecutor makes me a deal: he'll allow me to plead an Alford ("I didn't do it but I want to take advantage of the government's plea deal") to criminally negligent homicide with a two-year sentence recommendation. It lets him walk away with a technical win just ahead of his re-election campaign and I get out of minimum security in two years. I can do that standing on my head and I know it.

My lawyer is screaming at me to not take the deal. I'm innocent, after all. Of course, defending my case will cost about $500,000. (That's not an unrealistic number, incidentally: for violent deaths you're looking at about a quarter million minimum, and it only goes up from there. That's the number my real-life, non-hypothetical attorney cited me when I asked what I'd be looking at for bills in a straightforward case of justifiable homicide: $250,000 just to take me to the trial date, and it only goes upwards from there.)

On the one hand I can pay $500,000 and walk away from it a free man, or I can forsake two years of income, reduce my lifetime earning potential, and hit pause on my life for two years. That would be a hard, hard choice for me. On balance, after a lot of thought and consideration, I tell my lawyer to take it to the jury. I'm a free man, but I'm now $500,000 in debt: it's unlikely I'll live long enough to fully pay off the bill.

Maybe I made the wrong call.

The process is the punishment. We like to think punishment starts only once the jury has found you guilty, but the reality is punishment starts at the moment of arrest.

One more thing to consider: my calculus made it a really close call. I make pretty good money and the prospect of losing two years of income, plus future earning potential, is what made going to trial and getting a not-guilty verdict worthwhile.

How would it change if I was a lower middle class guy working at a $15/hr job making $30,000 a year? I can pay $500,000 to walk away a free man and know that for the rest of my life I will never, ever, ever break out of poverty... or I can take the deal. I'm giving up two years of my life, some future earnings, and $60,000 of income. That's so much better than $500,000 to be a free man that the two aren't even in the same ballpark.

The process is the punishment: and the lower you are on the socioeconomic ladder, the more the process punishes.
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Every day I learn something new on the internet, that history lessons in school never taught me.
Today my lesson was: "Why are there no black people in Argentina?"
..... My head is spinning...


"As I watched the Argentina and Iceland match today and wondered why there were no black players in the Argentinean team when other South American teams had black or biracial players, I remembered a conversation I had last year.

It was while I was on a cruise from Florida to the Grand Cayman Islands in the Caribbean.

Between an Argentinean doctor and myself, who had walked up to me during lunch one day and struck up a conversation with me.

There was no hiding the attraction.

We had bonded much to the chagrin of her three Argentinean friends.

On the deck of the ship that day, she kept going on about how she loves black men and looks forward to traveling so she can meet them.

I asked her.

"Don't you have black people in Argentina?"

She said with a matter of fact candour.

"No. Long time ago, after slavery, we killed them all."

I was taken aback.

She smiled.

And continued.

"Very bad. I am ashamed of my people. It was very systematic though. Very well thought out. First they forced most of the men to fight for Argentina against Paraguay. They knowingly sent them into battles that were poorly planned so that the Paraguay army will do for them what they couldn't themselves do. Kill the blacks. Most of them died there. The remaining of them they forced to live in this province were there was a plague. A disease that the government refused to curb so that it can also do for them what they couldn't do. Kill the blacks. The refused to set up hospitals, clinics, adequate shelter, food outlets, nothing. They created the best environment for the disease to thrive. It killed the rest of the men that had survived the war. The darker you are, the higher the chance they will send you to that place to live or to the war to die. The lighter skinned women they forced them to sleep with the white men, so that their children are biracial, then they forced the children when they grew older to sleep with white men, so that the blackness of the skin of the children became whiter and whiter until there was no longer any visibly black people seen. It was so bad that blacks fled to Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and even Paraquay where they were better treated even though not as well as they should be treated as human beings deserving full equality. Atleast those ones did not want to kill them and accepted to give them protection and a means of livelihood. As a matter of fact in Chile, there was a city called Arica where Black people were so accepted and respected that in the 1700s two black free man, one called Anzuréz were elected mayors. But the white colonial masters from Spain came six months later and nullified the elections, they were afraid of other cities giving black people too many rights. But the blacks who had found succour did not complain, they sent word for others to flee Argentina and come join them. Afterall what was cancelled elections compared to certain death?"

Then she went silent as though trying to replay the magnitude of the crime in her mind again. Then she said it in a sombre tone in order to drive it home to me.

"The ones the Argentineans did not kill through war or disease, and rape and impregnate, fled the country and ultimately we got rid of the blacks."

I listened in rising sorrow.

She continued academically.

"So although they abolished slavery in 1815 in Argentina, it continued until 1853, after that the main preoccupation of the leaders was how to get rid of the black slaves and their descendants. Our president who ruled us from 1868 to 1874, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, wrote in his diary in 1848, this was long before he became president and slavery ended that - 'In the United States… 4 million are black, and within 20 years will be 8 million…. What is to be done with such blacks, hated by the white race?' - It shows that he was already thinking of how to eliminate black people before he became President and when he became President, he succeeded."

"Didn't the world say anything?"

"No. They ignored it. I am sure most of them wanted to do the same thing but failed. At that time, they admired them. I remember when I will go to Brazil as a child, my father's friend will say in disgust as he looked at the black Brazilians - we should have had your guts and finished them off. All of them. Make Brazil white just like Argentina."

"And the Europeans?"

She laughed.

"It is an open secret, just like King Leopold and his genocide in Congo. No one talks about it, but they know about it. Atleast the older ones do. The younger ones not so much. Why do you think all the Nazis ran to Argentina after World War 2?"

I was silent.

She continued.

"Because it was the perfect place for the most evil racists in history to live."

Then she looked out to the infinitely blue sea around the ship and sighed audibly before she continued.

" Sadly, to some extent, it still is welcoming and accomodating of racial hatred. We took the Tango from the African slaves and made it our own. In Argentina, not one person will tell you the true history of that dance. They don't want to associate it with Africa. In fact if you ask them about black people in Argentina they will tell you that there has never been black people in Argentina. They teach them in schools. They rewrite the history. They make it all white. And as I said it is all underneath the surface. They never come out and say we hate black people. Argentina is only for whites or anything like that. They have just fixed the country to only be for white people."

I looked at her friends, Argentineans like her, who were lounging on the chairs on the deck, clad in their tiny bikinis, drinking pina coladas and smiling.

She followed my gaze and then turned to me.

"Don't be fooled by all those smiles, scratch the surface and you will see that all they want is for you to disappear."

I watched the Argentina and Iceland match today and wondered why there were no black players in the Argentinean team when other South American teams had black or biracial players, I remembered a conversation I had last year.
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The English-speaking peoples (and much of the Western world) have been engulfed by an age of pure selfishness and short-sighted thinking.

Everything is fair game as long as it is not happening to us, that's the new vogue sentiment. Sure, go ahead, torture people if it possibly gets a result; incarcerate children and tear apart families seeking a better life; police brutality is fine because I'm not the colour being targeted and don't live in those areas; fuck these people who aren't like me, every issue we have can be blamed on people that aren't like me; We want the right to express un-evidenced bullshit loudly without rebuke: they shouldn't qualify for the benefits of our societies because they aren't like me; let's not intervene positively in that Libya humanitarian crisis and just keep selling weapons to the fuckers causing the situation like Saudi Arabia; Screw the Palestinians, let their smashed bones litter the Gaza strip and turn to dust. let's just pretend Israel won Jerusalem, job done; Human rights and diplomacy? Fuck it. We don't understand those things, the teachable moments of the World Wars have faded in our memories for we don't read books, why read? Don't wanna understand it.
Not. Happening. To . Me.

That's about the size of it. People too fucking dumb to know this road will eventually lead to consequences for all of our children.
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An article in Linux Journal about the danger that the proposed EU Copyright Reform poses not just for freedom of expression in general, but especially for FOSS, including a quote from yours truly in my role as +The KDE Community Board member that was included in a whitepaper by FSFE a while ago.
tl;dr: In the worst case scenario, KDE would probably need to move most of our infrastructure and organization outside of the EU.

Spread the word about this dangerous regulation proposal!
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